A Derby Hills resident who got the city of Sandy Springs to stop installation of a 5G wireless pole on his property due to the COVID-19 pandemic has filed suit against Verizon Wireless to prevent it from ever happening.

William Kaspers filed what he wants declared a class-action suit eligible for the 110 property owners of his Derby Hills subdivision. He wants the wireless company stopped from installing any 5G towers in the neighborhood, citing allegations that antenna frequencies could cause cancer and decreased property values.

A photo, taken by resident Ann Bates, of Verizon Wireless subcontractors on April 1 trying to begin work on 5G poles in Sandy Springs’ Derby Hills neighborhood.

If the U.S. District Court judge assigned the complaint decides the installation can’t be legally stopped, he asked that Verizon Wireless be ordered to pay every one of the 110 homeowners in the subdivision $128,200 in compensation for what he claims will be reduced property values.

Kaspers, who is an attorney, said in his suit that installation and operation of 5G cells in a neighborhood “is viewed by the general public as analogous to residing adjacent to a toxic waste site” in justifying his claim of a 20% devaluation of a residence.

“Verizon takes very seriously the health and safety of our employees and customers, and of all residents in the communities we serve,” said Kate Jay, a spokesperson with Verizon Consumer Group. “All Verizon facilities, including the small cells that Verizon is deploying to provide 5G service, are required to comply with the FCC safety standards.” She referred to the website of the wireless industry association CTIA, which states experts agree that wireless devices have not been shown to pose a public health risk and cell phone towers operate within safety limits.

Verizon said it does not comment on pending litigation.

Kaspers helped to trigger a temporary halt to the local pole installation in April. Kaspers said he first encountered a subcontractor for Verizon who came to his door to tell him the 5G pole would be installed on his property. The worker got within 6 feet of Kaspers repeatedly despite being asked to respect social distancing and being told that Kaspers was an at-risk individual, he said.

The representative left but returned another day with a sheriff’s deputy. Kaspers called Sandy Springs City Attorney Dan Lee, who had contracted COVID-19 himself. A Sandy Springs city official arrived and told the subcontractors they would not be allowed to work there during the pandemic. The city issued a stop-work order for all installation in residential neighborhoods until the pandemic crisis ends, city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said.

The issue is not a new one. Version spokesperson Matt Hurley acknowledged in a Feb. 4 City Council meeting that the company dropped the ball on notifying residents about the 1,000 poles they planned to install in Sandy Springs. Local residents were on hand to complain about holes being dug on their property without any notification.

“My wife and I were out of the continental U.S. on vacation when the thing came before Sandy Springs City Council,” Kaspers said about that meeting.

The logo on the local website stop5gsandysprings.com.

He said his first concern when the Verizon subcontractor approached him within social distancing guidelines was his health. He said he’s almost 72 and was working from home under stay-at-home orders. His mindset was to reach his 72nd birthday.

After news got out about his confrontation with the Verizon subcontractors, Kaspers said he was contacted by resident Michael Prolman. By that time Prolman had created a website, Stop5GSandySprings.com, to publicize some scientists’ call for more study on 5G to determine if it is safe.

Kaspers’ suit calls attention to the 5G pole being within 100 feet of his bedroom and directly beside the street where many cars and pedestrians pass daily in declaring the potential health risks.

Kaspers served Verizon Wireless by registered mail on May 22.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Reporter Newspapers.